Obesity is the medical condition which represents excess body fat in the body. Obesity is the risk factor for many chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes etc.
A new study led by the researchers of the University of Virginia School of Medicine have found the reason why obesity turn into a severe disease like diabetes and clogged arteries and other health problems.
“All these diseases have a common denominator,” researcher Vlad Serbulea said. “It may well be that we’ve identified what starts off the whole cascade of inflammation and metabolic changes.”
This research may help doctors to improve the understanding of chronic diseases and can use this understanding to combat these chronic diseases and others driven by damaging inflammation.
The Immune cells which live in our fat tissue were thought to be beneficial but they become harmful during obesity which in turn lead to undesirable and unhealthy inflammation. The reason behind the immune cell changing from savior to culprit was unknown until this research.
During their research, scientist found that the culprit was free radicals which are produced in our body and reacts with lipid present inside fat tissue. This attacking of free radicals to fat tissue leads to inflammation which is a normal response of our immune system.
Free radicals are so reactive and unstable that they want to combine with other molecule and lipid molecule is the perfect match for free radicals to combine with. This process is called lipid oxidation.
” At first the scientists expected the oxidized lipids would prove harmful, but it wasn’t that simple. Some of the oxidized lipids were causing damaging inflammation – reprogramming immune cells to become hyperactive – but other oxidized lipids were present in healthy tissue. Specifically, shorter “truncated” ones are protective, while longer “full-length” ones were inflammatory.
“When we compare healthy and obese tissue, what seems to change is the ratio of full-length and truncated oxidized lipids,” Serbulea said.
“Our studies show that the full-length, or longer, oxidized lipids are quite inflammatory. They promote inflammation within these immune cells, and we think that instigates and perpetuates the disease process within [fat] tissue during obesity.”
With this study in mind, the scientist has found which oxidized lipids are causing problems, and how, they can seek to block them to prevent inflammation. The next step is to make a drug which can help in reducing the number of harmful as well as full-length oxidized lipids.
“Now, knowing that some of these molecules are really bad guys, so to speak, eliminating them from the circulation may have a very beneficial effect on chronic diseases,” said Leitinger, of UVA’s Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center and UVA’s Carter Immunology Center.
The next goal of the researchers is to find the right balance because we cannot block inflammation completely as they are the defense mechanism of our immune cells. By restoring the balance chronic disease can be stopped which are now plague millions of people.
“One thing we showed is that metabolism in the immune cells is an exploitable target,” Serbulea said. “It’s been a target in diseases like cancer, but now for obesity and atherosclerosis it becomes more and more of a focus.”